Washington Weekly – April 25, 2014

April 25, 2014

The House and Senate were in recess this week and last week.

FY2015 Appropriations

The FY15 Commerce Justice Science (CJS) Appropriations bill will be the next bill House Appropriators consider when they return from their two-week spring recess. The bill is scheduled to be marked up in subcommittee on April 30. The FY15 Military Construction-VA and Legislative Branch spending bills will be on the House floor next week. Action in the House is expected to pick up after the Congressional Budget Office released its score of the FY15 White House budget request on April 17. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) continues to work towards his goal of reporting all 12 annual spending bills by the July 4 recess.

Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) said that the FY15 Military Construction-VA bill would be the first bill marked up in her committee, likely followed by the Legislative Branch and CJS bills. The MilCon-VA bill may be marked up sometime around May 22. Mikulski has also said that she will move some bills to the floor individually, while others will be packaged together into “minibuses.”

Appropriations Subcommittee House Action Senate Action
Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies    
Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: April 30  
Defense    
Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies    
Financial Services and General Government    
Homeland Security    
Interior    
Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies    
Legislative Branch Subcommittee: April 3

Full Committee: April 9

Floor: April 30/May 1

 
Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: April 3

Full Committee: April 9

Floor: April 30/May 1

 
State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs    
Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies    

As a reminder, the deadlines for members of Congress to submit their programmatic and language requests for the FY15 appropriations process are as follows:

Appropriations Subcommittee House Deadline Senate Deadline
Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies Mar. 31 Apr. 4
Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Mar. 31 Apr. 11
Defense Apr. 2 May 2
Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Apr. 2 Apr. 4
Financial Services and General Government Apr. 2 Apr. 11
Homeland Security Mar. 31 Apr. 4
Interior Apr. 4 Apr. 9
Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies Apr. 4 Apr. 4
Legislative Branch Mar. 17 Apr. 3
Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Mar. 17 Apr. 10
State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Apr. 4 Apr. 9
Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies Apr. 2 Apr. 4

FY15 Defense Budget

An internal Pentagon email obtained by Bloomberg News this week indicated that the Department of Defense is preparing three scenarios for FY15 Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. The scenarios are zero, 5000, and 10,000 US troops stationed in Afghanistan. The President’s FY15 budget request submitted to Congress in March included a $79.4 billion placeholder for OCO funding but did not include any specifics. The email stated that the three scenarios are for budget planning purposes only and did not imply any operational decisions or plans. The email also indicates that the White House Office of Management and Budget plans to negotiate the final OCO funding position with the Department of Defense on May 23.

FY15 National Defense Authorization Act

The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) will release the subcommittee inputs for the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Tuesday, 24 hours before the subcommittees will meet to markup their plans. Four HASC subcommittees will mark up their sections on Wednesday, with the two remaining subcommittees conducting their markups on Thursday. The subcommittees’ markups will then be incorporated into the full committee markup, which will take place on May 7 and is led by the chairman. The text of the full committee markup will be released three days beforehand. HASC Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) has indicated that his priorities for the FY15 NDAA are intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance (ISR) assets; nuclear deterrence; and ready forces.

The HASC FY15 NDAA markup schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

10:30 AM—Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities Markup (Room 2212)

12:00 PM—Subcommittee on Strategic Forces Markup (Room 2118)

1:30 PM—Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces Markup (Room 2212)

3:00 PM—Subcommittee on Military Personnel Markup (Room 2118)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

9:30 AM—Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces Markup (Room 2118)

10:30 AM—Subcommittee on Readiness Markup (Room 2212)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

10:00 AM—Full Committee Markup (Room 2118)

The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) FY15 NDAA markup schedule is as follows:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

9:30 a.m. — Subcommittee on Airland. OPEN. Room SD-G50.

11:00 a.m. —Subcommittee on Seapower. CLOSED. Room SR-222.

2:00 p.m. —Subcommittee on Strategic Forces. CLOSED. Room SR-222.

3:30 p.m. —Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support. OPEN. Room SD-G50.

5:00 p.m. —Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. OPEN. Room SD-G50.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

10:00 a.m. —Subcommittee on Personnel. OPEN. Room SD-G50.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

2:30 p.m. — 9:00 p.m. Full Committee. CLOSED. Room SR-222.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

9:30 a.m. — 9:00 p.m. [with a break for lunch] Full Committee. CLOSED. Room SR-222.

If markup is not completed on Thursday, May 22, then:

Friday, May 23, 2014

9:30 a.m. — Completion Full Committee. CLOSED. Room SR-222.

Homeland Security

The House Homeland Security Committee is holding a full committee markup on Wednesday April 30 on HR 4228, the DHS Acquisition Accountability and Efficiency Act; HR 4007, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program Authorization and Accountability Act; and HR 3283, the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Modernization Act of 2013.

Political Updates

Deputy Secretary of State William Burns announced last week that he is stepping down in October. Burns has delayed his retirement several times at the request of the President and Secretary Kerry. His 32-year career in the Foreign Service included stints as US ambassador to Russia and Jordan, top Middle East hand and leader of a team that held secret talks with Iran that led to the current negotiations over that country’s nuclear program.

Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI) announced earlier this month that he would not seek reelection in November. Petri is a centrist Republican with a 35-year history in Congress. He serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee where he is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, as well as the Education and Workforce Committee.

Businessman Curt Clawson won the special Republican primary in Florida’s 19th District on Tuesday. The self-funding manufacturing executive and former Purdue University basketball player defeated three other Republicans and becomes the favorite in the June 24 special general election to replace former Rep. Trey Radel (R-FL), who resigned earlier this year after pleading guilty to cocaine possession.

President Barack Obama chose W. Neil Eggleston as his next White House counsel. Eggleston was a partner at Kirkland and Ellis and a Clinton administration veteran with experience representing government officials in oversight investigations.

Next Week

The House and Senate return from a two-week recess. The House will consider the FY15 Military Construction-VA and Legislative Branch appropriations bills. The Senate is expected to take up a bill to raise the hourly minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016 and a tax extenders bill, and hold a confirmation hearing on Sylvia Mathews Burwell for Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Washington Weekly – April 11, 2014

April 11, 2014 

In addition to passing an FY15 budget resolution this week, the House passed HR 1871, a bill to modify budget law to eliminate the baseline assumption that discretionary spending increases annually with inflation, and HR 1872, a bill that would account for the costs of market risks in federal credit programs. The Senate completed work on an unemployment aid package providing five months of emergency unemployment benefits retroactively to late December and through May 31. The Senate also unanimously approved a bill (the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act) to make more data about federal spending publicly available. The bill is expected to pass the House quickly and then head to the President for his signature. While the Senate failed to invoke cloture on S 2199, the Paycheck Fairness Act, the President signed two executive orders to prevent pay discrimination. One requires federal contractors to no longer forbid employees from discussing their pay, while the other directs the Department of Labor to collect aggregate pay information from federal contractors broken down by gender and race.

FY2015 Budget

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) FY15 budget resolution was considered on the House floor this week and passed by a vote of 219 to 205. While there was some concern that conservatives might not back the measure, in the end only 12 Republicans (and all Democrats) voted against it. The resolution proposes to cut $5.1 trillion in spending over 10 years and calls for dramatic changes to Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and the tax code. It also repeals most of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), enacts welfare reforms, and rolls back energy and financial sector regulations. The budget resolution is nonbinding and more of a political statement from House Republicans as it will not be considered in the Senate. Senate Democrats opted to not consider a budget resolutions this year as they contend the Balanced Budget Act passed by Congress last December already sets the overall funding level for FY15.

Five alternative budget plans were offered, considered, and, ultimately, defeated. The alternatives included a Democratic version by Budget ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), President Obama’s FY15 proposal as offered by Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), and alternative budgets from the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Republican Study Committee.

FY2015 Appropriations

The House Appropriations Committee met this week to mark up the FY15 Military Construction-Veterans Affairs (MilCon/VA) and Legislative Branch spending bills. The Appropriations Committees normally consider their 302(b) allocations prior to marking up their 12 annual spending bills in committee. However, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) said this week that his committee does not have the updated Congressional Budget Office baseline information used for scoring the bills that is necessary for providing accurate suballocations for the bills. Rogers anticipates receiving that updated information on April 17. In the meantime, the committee considered interim 302(b) allocations for these first two bills.

The committee approved by voice vote the $165 billion FY15 MilCon/VA appropriations bill, but first adopted a manager’s amendment offered by subcommittee Chairman John Culberson (R-TX) that would insert provisions and make technical changes to the draft committee report. The committee rejected an amendment offered by Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) that would strike a provision to prohibit military construction funds from being used to construct or alter facilities in the United States with the intent of housing detainees from the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The bill provides $6.6 billion for military construction (down $3.2 billion from the $9.8 billion enacted in FY14) and $158.2 billion for the VA (up $10.3 billion over FY14 levels). Both parties are hoping the funding levels provided in FY15 will help the VA in its efforts to reduce its backlog of pending claims. The bill also provides $234 million for related and independent agencies, such as cemetery expenses at Arlington National Cemetery.

The committee also approved the $3.3 billion FY15 Legislative Branch spending bill. The funding level is the same as the FY14 funding level, but $122.5 million less than what the President requested. If enacted, the Government Accountability Office (+$14.2M), the Government Printing Office (+$3.2M), and the Library of Congress (+$15.9M) would receive modest increases. The bill contains $1.2 billion to fund the operations of the House – the same as FY14, and continues restrictions on Representatives and Senators from receiving a pay increase in FY15. The Capitol Police would receive $347 million, about $9.5 million more than current spending, but still below their $356 million request.

Chairman Rogers reiterated his goal of completing committee consideration of all 12 annual appropriations bills before the end of June and passing all spending measures before the August recess. In the Senate, Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., is planning her first markups in May.

As a reminder, the deadlines for members of Congress to submit their programmatic and language requests for the FY15 appropriations process are as follows:

Appropriations Subcommittee House Deadline Senate Deadline
Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies Mar. 31 Apr. 4
Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Mar. 31 Apr. 11
Defense Apr. 2 May 2
Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Apr. 2 Apr. 4
Financial Services and General Government Apr. 2 Apr. 11
Homeland Security Mar. 31 Apr. 4
Interior Apr. 4 Apr. 9
Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies Apr. 4 Apr. 4
Legislative Branch Mar. 17 Apr. 3
Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Mar. 17 Apr. 10
State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Apr. 4 Apr. 9
Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies Apr. 2 Apr. 4

FY15 National Defense Authorization Act

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) and ranking member Adam Smith (D-WA) began the FY15 defense authorization process this week by introducing a “by request bill,” HR 4435. This is the first step in the legislative process for the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes funding for military activities of the Department of Defense, military construction, and defense activities of the Department of Energy, and prescribes military personnel strengths. When the committee meets to mark up the bill later this month/next month, the content of HR 4435 will be struck and replaced with subcommittee and full committee proposals. The markup schedule for the committee is as follows:

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

10:30 AM—Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities Markup (Room 2212)

12:00 PM—Subcommittee on Strategic Forces Markup (Room 2118)

1:30 PM—Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces Markup (Room 2212)

3:00 PM—Subcommittee on Military Personnel Markup (Room 2118)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

9:30 AM—Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces Markup (Room 2118)

10:30 AM—Subcommittee on Readiness Markup (Room 2212)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

10:00 AM—Full Committee Markup (Room 2118)

Defense Unfunded Priorities Lists

Last week the Pentagon released their FY15 unfunded priorities lists totaling almost $34B. The lists are breakdowns from the Army ($10.603B), Navy ($10.0582B), Marines ($2.5483B), Air Force ($7.991B), Special Operations ($400M), and National Guard ($1.5493B) of their wish lists for additional funds to pay for things like maintenance, shore and afloat readiness, recapitalization, installation support, training and personnel costs, facility modernization, critical spares, and weapons systems modernization. Defense Secretary Hagel said that he was publishing the lists in compliance with orders from Congress, but made it clear that he would not lobby for this additional funding. Copies of the lists can be found at:

Army – http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/?p=162

Navy – http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/?p=163

Marine Corps – http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/?p=164

Air Force – http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/?p=165

Special Operations – http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/?p=166

National Guard – http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/?p=167

Cybersecurity

The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission issued a formal policy statement on Thursday saying they won’t file antitrust complaints against companies that share information with each other about cyberattacks on their computer systems. Companies were nervous that antitrust laws intended to prevent stifling competition and inflating prices could be violated when discussing information about cyberattacks. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) applauded the announcement but said that cybersecurity legislation is still needed. The policy statement can be found at: http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/?p=168.

Homeland Security

Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI), Chairwoman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security held a hearing this week with the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in advance of committee consideration of two bills introduced earlier this year that reauthorize CBP (HR 3846) and ICE (HR 4279). Both agencies have never received formal authorization from Congress. The intent of the bills is to give the agencies the proper authorities to carry out their missions. Both bills have bipartisan support, as well as support from the two agencies.

Political Updates

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius resigned this week after leading the agency through the creation and implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  President Obama announced today his intent to nominate OMB director Sylvia Mathews Burwell to replace Sebelius. Sebelius leaves after the Administration announced 7.5 million people enrolled in “Obamacare,” but she was the face for the Administration while they experienced the technical problems with the implementation late last year. Burwell was confirmed as OMB director in a 96 to 0 vote last April. Her nomination to be HHS Secretary has received support from both sides of the aisle, and will be made easier by the Senate’s change to the filibuster rule that now only requires a simple majority vote instead of 60 votes.

Maria Contreras-Sweet was sworn in this week as administrator of the Small Business Administration. Contreras-Sweet was the executive chairwoman and founder of ProAmérica Bank, a commercial bank focusing on small to mid-sized businesses with a specialty in the Latino community.

The Senate Monday confirmed the nomination of Dr. Reggie Brothers to be DHS Undersecretary for Science and Technology (S&T) and retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Frank Taylor to be DHS Undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis. Brothers is the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research at DoD where he led oversight of DoD’s cyber S&T portfolio. He was also the chair of the DoD S&T Executive Council, which has oversight of the DoD S&T portfolio. Taylor is the former Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security and deputy director for operations in the Directorate of Counterintelligence and Investigative Programs in the Office of the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.

The Senate also confirmed Wanda Felton for a second term as First Vice President and Vice Chair of the Export-Import Bank of the United States and Terrell McSweeny to be a Federal Trade Commissioner. McSweeny’s nomination returns the FTC to full-strength for the first time in a year and gives the Democrats a 3-2 edge. McSweeny was a former aide to Vice President Joe Biden. And finally, Neil Kornze was confirmed by the Senate as Director of the Bureau of Land Management. Kornze was a Senior Policy Advisor to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) from 2003 to 2011.

Next Week

The House and Senate are in recess the next two weeks and will reconvene the week of April 28.

Washington Weekly – April 4, 2014

April 4, 2014

The House passed bills providing economic assistance to Ukraine and imposing sanctions against Russia, which were then signed into law by the President. The House also passed HR 2575, the Save American Workers Act, a bill redefining “full-time employee” from 30 hours to 40 hours a week in the 2010 Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). And, later today, the House is expected to pass HR 1874, the Pro-Growth Budgeting Act of 2013, a bill requiring the Congressional Budget Office to use dynamic scoring for major legislation (except appropriations). The Senate passed and the President signed into law a year-long extension of the “doc fix,” a bill to prevent cuts to Medicare payment rates. The Senate also continued debate on a five-month extension to emergency unemployment compensation.

FY2015 Budget

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Chairman of the House Budget Committee introduced his FY15 budget resolution this week. The resolution proposes to cut $5.1 trillion in spending over 10 years and calls for dramatic changes to Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and the tax code. It also repeals most of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), enacts welfare reforms, and rolls back energy and financial sector regulations.

The nonbinding budget resolution, marked up in committee this week, adheres to the $1.014 trillion discretionary budget cap for FY15 that was agreed to in the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) passed by Congress last December (P.L. 113-67). While it proposes significant cuts in order to balance the budget within 10 years, defense spending is boosted by $273 billion over the level in the President’s proposed FY15 budget. Although it makes no recommendations for scaling back military pay and benefits, Ryan does say that serious consideration should be given to the recommendations due early next year from the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission.

During the markup, Democrats offered and requested votes on several amendments that they will use in the upcoming elections to demonstrate the parties’ differing priorities. The defeated amendments include immigration overhaul, raising the minimum wage, and extending unemployment insurance offset by reducing tax subsidies for oil companies and increasing the income tax on millionaires. Democrats also criticize the budget for the use of dynamic scoring, which they assert overstates the economic impact of the proposal.

The budget resolution will be considered on the House floor next week. Passage of the budget resolution in the House may be difficult, as Republicans will need 217 votes. Out of the 233 Republicans in the House, 62 voted against the BBA in December. Ryan’s FY14 budget resolution also passed by a slim margin last year. Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) has said that her committee will not write a budget since the BBA already set the FY15 discretionary spending limit.

FY2015 Appropriations

The House Appropriations Committee officially kicked off the FY15 appropriations process with two subcommittee markups this week – Military Construction/Veterans Affairs and Legislative Branch. These are considered the two least controversial of the 12 annual spending bills. The FY15 DHS appropriations bill may be up next on the docket. These markups were held prior to the committee releasing their 302(b) allocations. It is unclear when those allocations would be made, but they will need to be set before the more controversial spending bills are considered. Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) said he aims to have all 12 bills through the full committee by July 4, and he would like to have all 12 pass the House before the August recess. Rogers also called for budget process reform that would move up the April 15 deadline for the House Budget Committee to set discretionary spending levels for appropriators in its annual budget resolution as it would give appropriators more time and a better chance of getting their bills done.

The FY15 Military Construction/Veterans Affairs (MilCon/VA) appropriations bill proposes $71.5 billion in discretionary spending, a decrease of $1.8 billion from FY14 with most of the cuts coming from the MilCon accounts. The bill includes $158.2 billion in both discretionary and mandatory funding for the VA ($10.3 billion over FY14, but $5.7 billion less than the President’s budget request) and $6.6 billion for military construction (compared to $9.8 billion in FY14). Similar to previous years, the bill prohibits any funds from being used to construct facilities in the US for housing Guantánamo Bay detainees. The bill provides $344 million for modernization of the VA’s electronic health record system, but as in the previous year’s spending measure, it would free up only 25 percent of those funds until the VA provides cost estimates for the program as well as status updates on efforts to achieve full interoperability with the Defense Department’s own records. The bill also provides $173 million for the paperless claims processing system and an increase of $20 million above the President’s request for digital scanning of health records, centralized mail, and overtime to end the backlog in disability compensation claims by 2015.

The FY15 Legislative Branch spending bill provides $3.3 billion, which is the same as the FY14 funding level but $122.5 million less than what the President requested. If enacted, the Government Accountability Office (+$14.2M), the Government Printing Office (+$3.2M), and the Library of Congress (+$15.9M) would receive modest increases. The bill contains $1.2 billion to fund the operations of the House – the same as FY14, and continues restrictions on Representatives and Senators from receiving a pay increase in FY15. The Capitol Police would receive $347 million, about $9.5 million more than current spending, but still below their $356 million request.

As a reminder, the deadlines for members of Congress to submit their programmatic and language requests for the FY15 appropriations process are as follows:

Appropriations Subcommittee House Deadline Senate Deadline
Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies Mar. 31 Apr. 4
Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Mar. 31 Apr. 11
Defense Apr. 2 May 2
Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Apr. 2 Apr. 4
Financial Services and General Government Apr. 2 Apr. 11
Homeland Security Mar. 31 Apr. 4
Interior Apr. 4 Apr. 9
Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies Apr. 4 Apr. 4
Legislative Branch Mar. 17 Apr. 3
Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Mar. 17 Apr. 10
State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Apr. 4 Apr. 9
Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies Apr. 2 Apr. 4

Cybersecurity

The Department of Defense (DoD) announced that it officially adopted the IT security standards in the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Risk Management Framework (RMF) in lieu of the military specific DOD Information Assurance Certification and Accreditation Process (DIACAP). DoD will move all IT systems used by its organizational entities to the NIST government-wide set of IT security accreditation standards. DOD released a memo (http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/?p=160) instructing DoD program managers, security personnel, and components on how to implement the new policy.

This is the first time defense and civilian agencies have identical security standards. In addition to all DoD organizational entities, the RMF will apply to weapons, space systems, vehicles, aircraft, and medical devices. The transition timeline calls for ending DIACAP within six months and fully transitioning to RMF within 3 ½ years.

Homeland Security

The House Homeland Security committee Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies subcommittee marked up HR 4007, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) Program Authorization and Accountability Act of 2014. CFATS was originally authorized by Congress in 2007 with the mission of developing a set of vulnerability assessment standards for chemical plants and implementing a corresponding set of regulations to protect the highest risk facilities from intentional physical attacks. CFATS requires covered chemical facilities to prepare security vulnerability assessments and to develop and implement site security plans based on those assessments. Subcommittee chairman Patrick Meehan (R-PA) said that CFATS has struggled in its seven-year history, hence the need for a two year reauthorization bill that would make the site security plan approval process more efficient and the compliance process better coordinated. The bill enjoys bipartisan support as well as the support of the Administration. Meehan worked with Energy and Commerce Committee to resolve jurisdictional referral issues.

Tax Extenders

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the new chair of the Senate Finance Committee held a mark up this week on a package (EXPIRE Act) that would extend for two years popular business tax preferences such as the credit for research and exploration, individual breaks for mortgage interest and mortgage debt relief, credits for public transit and parking, and biofuel and renewable energy provisions. But only 45 of the 55 breaks that expired Dec. 31 made it into the bill. A description of the Chairman’s modification to the EXPIRE Act can be found at:

http://www.finance.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Chairman’s%20Modification%20EXPIRE%20Act.pdf

At the markup, Wyden said that this would be the last tax extenders bill the committee takes up as long as he is chairman. “That’s why the bill is called the EXPIRE Act. It is meant to expire.” The committee in a bipartisan voice vote approved the bill. Wyden plans on holding hearings starting next week that focus on reforming the tax code.

Political Updates

House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) announced this week that he would not run for reelection in November. Camp was first elected in 1990. Because of Republican leadership term limits, he is in his last year as chair of the powerful committee whose jurisdiction includes the tax code, Social Security, Medicare, and trade policy. Camp introduced a long-awaited tax-reform package earlier this year that was not embraced by GOP leadership. Camp is the fourth House committee chair to announce his retirement this year. Four Senate committee chairs have also announced their retirements this year. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Chair of the House Budget Committee, and Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) have both indicated an interest in succeeding Camp as Chair of the Ways and Means Committee. Camp’s retirement opens up a potentially competitive district as President Obama narrowly carried the district in 2008.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), an Iraq Veteran, was named to the House Armed Services Committee filling the seat left open by the resignation of Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ). Gabbard, a captain in the Hawaii Army National Guard, said that she would continue to work on bipartisan efforts to reform the military justice system to end the epidemic of military sexual assault.

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 this week that caps on the total amount of money an individual can give to political campaigns and PACs in an election cycle are unconstitutional violating the First Amendment. Before the ruling, a single donor could contribute up to $5,200 to every House and Senate candidate up to a limit of $48,600. Now, if a single donor gives $5,200 to every House and Senate candidate of one party in a 468-race election cycle, the total would be $2,433,600. Contributions to party committees are capped as well. Before they were limited to $74,600 total. Now, a single donor can give $32,400 to each of the three federal party committees each year and $10,000 to each of the party’s 50 state committees for up to $1,194,400 in donations in a two-year election cycle. And finally, before contributions to Political Action Committees (PACs) were limited to a total of $74,600 in increments of up to $5,000. Post ruling, a single donor can give up to $5,000 to each PAC aligned with his or her political interest. If a donor spent $5,000 on each of the 2757 PACs in the 2012 election cycle, that would equal $13.7 million.

The Senate confirmed Christopher Lu to be Deputy Secretary of Labor. Lu has served as Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary for President Obama, and as co-chair of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Lu was a classmate of President Obama’s at Harvard Law School and worked for Obama when he was in the Senate.

Next Week

The House will vote on their FY15 budget resolution as well as consider two budget process reform bills – one (HR 1871) would scrap the baseline budget assumption that discretionary spending grows each year with inflation and the other (HR 1872) would account for the costs of market risks in federal credit programs. The Senate will vote on final passage of a five-month extension to emergency unemployment compensation and may begin consideration of S 2198, the Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014 and S 2199, the Paycheck Fairness Act.